Abbot Xuecheng, once a CCP darling, has been “counseled” to resign as a result of a sexual scandal—and for other reasons, too.
On August 8, Bitter Winter reported that Venerable Xuecheng, the abbot of Beijing’s Longquan Temple and the President of the Chinese Buddhist Association, a staunch supporter of the CCP, was investigated for sexual abuse.
Hong Kong media now report that the CCP advised Xuecheng to resign and that he has left his position as chief of the Chinese Buddhist Association, the government-controlled Buddhist body in China. Chinese sources mention that, in addition to sexual abuse, he was accused of embezzling funds and allow the construction of “illegal temples.”
This seems to confirm that, whatever the reality of the sexual abuse accusations, Xuecheng had also lost favor with CCP for his criticism of the recent crackdown on religion and temples.
On July 31, 2018, Chinese Buddhism was shocked by the scandal. A “Report on important matters” appeared on WeChat, accusing Venerable Xuecheng 学诚, the abbot of Beijing’s Longquan Temple, of having abused of Buddhist nuns for years, telling them that they would be “purified” through sexual relations with him. The report included explicit messages allegedly sent by Xuecheng to the nuns. The authors of the report are two former masters at Longquan Temple, Xianjia 贤佳, and Xianqi 贤启, and the text also includes a memoir by one of the nuns.
The report sent shockwaves through the Buddhist world. Xuecheng had a surprisingly quick career in the Chinese Buddhist Association, of which he became Secretary-General in 2007 and President in 2011 at age 45, the youngest monk ever to be appointed to that position. The Chinese Buddhist Association is the Buddhist equivalent of the Three-Self Church for the Protestants or the Patriotic Association for the Catholics, i.e., a government-controlled body to which affiliation is mandatory for Buddhist temples and institutions throughout China.
On August 1, Xuecheng denied all charges with a short declaration posted on Weibo.
Bitter Winter plans to report on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We plan to publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).